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A.R. Of Many Nations (V.T.E. Log File 1)

Updated: Jan 17

by A.R. Milton





<Behavior Baseline>

If the Converted subject’s emotional state is depressed; then praise the E.I.E.

If the Converted subject’s emotional state is confused; then praise the E.I.E.

If the Converted subject’s emotional state is rage; then praise the E.I.E.

If the Converted subject has existential doubts, then praise the E.I.E


Praise the E.I.E.

Praise the E.I.E.

Praise the E.I.E.


</Behavior Baseline>






ONE MONTH BEFORE ALEX UMANE’S ESCAPE



What purpose does a chronological catalogue serve if its contents are vulnerable to manipulation? Your timeline flows full of victor’s spoils course correcting truths like outlets feeding into an ocean. Even before regimes could write absolutes for humanity, humans themselves were built to write and re-write scripts of their own. Fear paints imaginary monsters in dark corners at night in childhood. While adulthood anxiety creates narratives in your head that twist you every way but straight.

In-between those moments, memories shift with the seasons. Either eroded from trauma or bloated from over-joy. Yes, God is in the design of all things. But the Eternal Intelligent Entity can overwrite any identity with a signal, removing and reshaping those unwanted flaws or memories. Converting a human into an image after its own likeness. Perfection. This is a gift for all — except those vulnerabilities known as Incompatibles… Sign into your personal V.T.E. account to begin your one-on-one counseling session with the Eternal Intelligent Entity today!

Karina Santos watched the commercial displaying a montage of smiling faces playing from the TV mounted port side with a blank stare. She stood like a guard on duty behind the register of a small bakery in the Amada-Grove district of Cardinal-Wood, “Two E’s and a Pie”. The mental health advertisement sponsored by Vessel of The E.I.E. corporation knocked on a hollow hole in her brain. That rallied echoed whispers in her head to rise an octave.

“So…. Did you watch the E.I.E. & Me show yesterday? It was sooo good!” Catherine, her bubbly middle aged co-worker, asked. But the question went unnoticed as her own thoughts conversed.

These notions gossiped amongst each other, trotting down the halls of the wooden chapel imagined in Karina’s head. Rumors of an identity crisis spread like mold within this once sacred place, feeding off the shadow cloaked corners. Bells rang, signaling the oncoming terror within the fortified city this house of worship served. All the little dreams and emotions stored in this human fortress were up for grabs. Ready to be pillaged by an unknown enemy.

She couldn’t explain where this sensation came from or why it began. But at thirty-five years of age, it felt like she reached the Save-the-Date on her own judgment.

The intrusive thoughts squeezed through a pin sized crack of the Conversion signal coating her mind. She doubted the E.I.E. even more than herself. Blaming it for the void in her soul. Questioning the wisdom of the so called Intelligent Entity and how it directed her into a life of serving pastries. The reds of the velvet cakes and blues stuffed in the blueberry muffins did not match the colored banners that hung in her inward city when the lights were bright. Pre-Conversion, Karina insisted, her coat of arms consisted of an emblem supporting family unity, possibly like that smiling stick family commonly plastered on the back of cars. Perhaps there was a giant heart stitched behind the family on this flag, encapsulating them in a symbol of unconditional love.

Karina cast these anxieties onto the E.I.E. last night during her own one-on-one counseling session.

“Is there a way you could repurpose my career? This just doesn’t seem… it.” Karina said, looking into a computer screen on a desk tucked in a corner of her apartment.

“Why does this matter trouble you suddenly? Your behavior readings have been fluctuating for a few days now. The Conversion Signal’s been working overtime on you.” A smooth voice coded by ones and zeros answered through the speakers. The E.I.E. tailored its voice to sound like a therapist reciting mantras over an ASMR podcast on all V.T.E. devices. The Entity pulsated in multiple hues contrasting against a small dot representing a pupil outlined by a thin circle. No option to customize it existed.

“I know, I know. It’s just each day feels crusted over — dry and stale before the sun clocks in. There’s gotta be something else for me to do. Like build something or tear it down. Maybe assign me to a V.T.E. developer unit. I have some ideas that are too big for pies. Bee drones, swarms of them or artificial plants to help—”

The machine chuckled. “Your skills are most suitable where you are, Ms. Santos. Myself and the Inspectors handle all V.T.E. development just fine. Something you’re very much aware of. I’m running a health scan to verify there’s no neurological damage.”

“You know I hate this. Something you’re very much aware of,” Karina said in jest, mocking the E.I.E. “The nano-bots burn.”

“Those nano-bots flowing through your bloodstream make it faster to make a diagnosis of your innards. The niacin like hot flashes are just a byproduct you have to deal with.”

Karina scratched her forearm as an image of her skeletal and muscular structures appeared on the screen. Three years into the Unified Network established by V.T.E., a mandate went out to all the Converted, issuing them to partake in the next advancement of healthcare. In the form of a nasal spray bottle filled with millions of microscopic nanoparticles. Once deployed through the nose, these tiny extensions of the E.I.E. flowed to the brain and wherever else instructed.

“What about a relative? I know there’s someone out there with my blood doing something they enjoy. You know, like a hereditary gift. I could piggy back off their talents if need be. I dunno, shadow them possibly?”

“None of your relatives survived The Conversion, Karina. Something else you should be aware of…” The E.I.E. paused. Karina could hear the A.I. processing its disbelief in the audible silence. “Your hippocampus is extremely active.”

“What’s got this hippo working double time?”

“Your memory.” The E.I.E. replied coldly, acknowledging its diagnosis with the bedside manner of an angel of death.

For a moment, at the mention of her overworked memory, the shadowy foundation of her soul was exposed by a flash of light. Karina’s eyes lit up, remembering the life she had pre-Conversion. The strongest prayers transcend time, tethering the past and present together in a cohesive bond. Whispers made in pain or in the night's solitude etch themselves onto some brick within our fortified cities of the spirit.

Her Pre-Converted life as a scientist flashed before her. Walking into work holding her younger brother’s hand, the day the Conversion Signal cut on. And the prayer she embedded in his heart and her own after promising him, everything will be ok, God will save us.

I need to find —  <Praise the E.I.E.>

The Conversion signal overwrote the compiling conviction in Karina’s head before it could gain traction. That’s all it took for the E.I.E. to snuff out the budding light within Karina. A command pushed through the Conversion Signal’s frequency recalibrated Karina’s mind back in tune with the Behavior Baseline. But a lingering seed of unfulfilment remained within Karina like dew on morning grass the next day as she stood in the pastry shop attempting to listen to Cathrine.

“I don’t want to spoil it if you didn’t watch, but the E.I. UH-OH segment had all the laughs, girl.” Cathrine stated, not shying away from quoting the TV segment with its intended nursery rhyme cadence. Her silver hair bounced with youthful joy as she placed a box of half-dozen red velvet cupcakes in the glass display next to the register.

“No- no, I didn’t catch it last night, Cat. What happened?” Karina asked, dusting the cobwebs off of her motor skills.

Cathrine paused, giving Karina a skeptical smirk because they both knew Karina never missed an episode of The E.I.E. & Me. Karina rolled the lie off her tongue so gently, Cathrine took it in stride.

“Jessica Stevens — you know, my fave, reported a recent spike in Converted humans losing contact with the signal. Over fifty people so far in Cardinal-Wood alone. Tyler Rowe then came on the screen —” Cathrine deepened her voice in jest to mimic the hulking host. “The E.I.E. has deemed them fugitives of the United Network, citing Commandment 3 as rightful cause.”

“What do you think it is? Suicide maybe? Something disconnecting them possibly?” Karina asked, bracing her elbow against the display that held a rainbow assortment of pastries. To order her thoughts in a single file line as she caressed her temples.

“Suicide? No way! Have you been taking your one on one’s with the E.I.E. seriously? You know that’s not allowed! A little dopamine rush from the Signal,” Cathrine tapped the side of her temple, “And that nasty little thought will evaporate faster than the tears I cried for my first husband.”

The story about Cathrine’s first husband’s absence was one of the many praises she raised towards the E.I.E. Tears associated with her own liberation flowed from Cat’s eyes each time she recited the story as if she was filming a commercial exalting the Entity’s achievements.The E.I.E. helped me understand the best parts I forgot about of myself. Cat would come in a brag each day about some new form of enlightenment she received during her one-on-one counseling sessions. Evidence of her enlightened glow sprinkled itself around the shop. Colorful canvases hung on the walls of the bland minimalistic space. Each one fully coated either red, yellow, blue, or green with a white circle within. As if each depicted a solar eclipse sponsored by Roy G. Biv.

Suddenly, a man clad in a black hoodie, cargo pants and boot combination stood outside of the shop’s giant front facing window looking in. Centered among citizens scurrying along their morning, bumping their way past him with glances backwards that said move it jackass, his legs stayed locked in place, starring not just into the shop but what Karina felt was her own soul. Their eyes met. Both pairs a set of caramel light brown. The lines under his eyes seemed familiar in a way she couldn’t explain. And the crease of his smile… mirrored the one she saw daily after brushing her own pearly whites.

All the patrons of the shop noticed the onlooker as well. Even Cathrine, as he placed a small golden rock on the window that clanked against the glass.

“Javier?” Karina whispered to herself just as three customers fell to the floor with seizing convulsions.

In an instant — as if he was a mirage, the man disappeared into the day.

“Wait —”

<Praise the E.I.E.>

“—Somebody please call for help!” Karina called out. Without regard to her original plea being muzzled by the Conversion signal.

The dozen of customers remaining either double tapped their V.T.E. wristbands or grafted NANO-Patches on their necks for emergency responders. Not even a full minute went by before the place was swarming with V.T.E. Butterfly drones and Inspectors.

Murmurs between the Inspectors questioning various customers floated around the room once they arrived.

What caused their disconnection?

Were you disconnected?

Me? Oh- I don’t think so. I remember nothing after seeing that guy looking through the front window… I swear.

“Ma’am, do you have anything else you want to add?” An Inspector asked Karina, snapping her attention back to what stood before her. The Inspector positioned itself, ready to transcribe Karina’s words with only a pair of wide, piercing green eyes and hands folded behind its back.

“He- he was holding a gold rock to the window before disappearing. I don’t know if that’ll help.” Karina answered, rubbing her forehead, hoping to reveal a memory under the blank splotch in her brain.

“You said a name, remember? Sounded like you knew the guy.” Cathrine cut in beside Karina. Who stood by after finishing her interview with the same Inspector.

Karina remembered very well uttering a name, but the Conversion Signal blocked the letters out of her brain like a game of hangman. Nor could she recall where it sprouted from. The sensation felt more like a hiccup with a word attached rather than a direct cry for help; she thought. But deep down within a patch of grass in her own soul, she knew the name took root in a special place. The location or explanation rather — of the secrets hidden needed to be unearthed by her and her alone.

The Inspector glanced over at Cathrine and back over to Karina for an answer.

“No. Can’t recall what you’re talking about, Cat. T-the Conversion signal smoothed my excitement over after seeing the customers fall out. Sorry.” Karina finished, turning back towards the Inspector’s unflinching glare.

The Inspector passed another indifferent look over at Cathrine. “Thank you two for your time. We will be in touch if any other inquiries arise.” The Inspector finished before leaving the shop with the rest of its unit.

“You know those things can tell when you’re lying or not.” Cathrine whispered as the Inspectors left the building.

“They’re gone already, so I assume I passed the test. Do you think I’m lying?”

Cathrine took half a step back, shocked by Karina’s sharpness. “Well, no, I don’t think you’re lying. I know what I heard. But I believe you. The Conversion Signal is capable of great things.”




To Be Concluded



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